Vernon golfer Conner Kozak will get a European stamp on his passport this summer.
Kozak has been selected to represent Team Canada at the World University Golf Championships, June 23-27, in Crans-Montana, Switzerland.
“This is a very well known tournament and I am looking forward to see how I stack up internationally,” said Kozak. “I am very excited, I have never been to Europe.”
Team Canada will consist of six golfers. The University of British Columbia Thunderbird will be accompanied by teammate and close friend Scott Secord of Calgary.
“We went with the six best golfers in Canada. It just so happens that two of them are friends and teammates,” said Team Canada coach Robin Stewart, the head golf coach at the University of Alberta and president of the Golf Coaches Association of Canada.
“Conner is a terrific player who is just coming into his own on the golf course. This will be excellent for him,” said Thunderbirds’ head coach Chris MacDonald.
Golfers from 25 countries will try their luck at the Crans-sur-Sierre golf course, the same site that hosts the Omega European Masters. The course is situated on the elegant Haut-Plateau resort.
Kozak is working through his junior season at UBC and is team captain.
“We got a good, young team here with a good future. The guys call me ‘Grandpa’ even though I’m only in my third year,” said Kozak, who contacted Stewart at the beginning of the year expressing his interest in representing his country.
“He is going to have a huge role on this team. We are looking for him to be one of our top golfers,” said Stewart.
It has been Kozak’s performance this season that solidified his spot on the roster.
In his first tournament of 2014, Kozak placed 11th at the Folino Men’s Invitational in mid-February, in Industry, Calif. He led UBC to fourth place.
From Industry, the Thunderbirds travelled north along I-5 for the Sacramento State Invitational.
Once again Kozak led his team, this time to ninth place. He ended the tournament tied for 20th.
“My ball striking is a lot more consistent this year. My tees and approach shots have been pretty good too,” said Kozak.
His best personal finish came at the Embry-Riddle University Bash at the Beach, earlier this month in Daytona Beach, Fla.
Kozak shot even par both rounds, finishing in a tie for ninth. UBC finished third.
“I didn’t make many mistakes that tournament,” said Kozak.
Added MacDonald: “He works hard at his game and goes about his business quietly. He has a calming presence out there.”
The Thunderbirds won the Western Washington Invitational last September, in Bellingham.
“That really got the ball rolling for our season. It gave us confidence early,” said Kozak.
Before Kozak and Team Canada hop on a jet for the Swiss Alps, he has a few major tournaments to attend.
The National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics Championship goes May 20-23, in Daytona Beach, Fla. The Golf Canada University/College Championship goes June 3-6, in Winnipeg, Man.
The 5-foot-11 Seaton Sonics grad is studying third-year kinesiology.